The Central Statistics Office (CSO) recently released data on the Irish grain harvest of 2013.

Of note was the reduction in the area planted, the high quality of the grain produced and the Irish winter wheat crop was 414,000 tonnes down 34 per cent on the previous year.

Speaking to AgriLand, Tim O’Donavan of Teagasc explained this was due to an extremely challenging autumn drilling period, which resulted in a large reduction in the wheat area planted.

The CSO figures also show a corresponding increase in spring wheat to 119,000 tonnes, up 46 per cent. Last year winter barley production was 339,000 tonnes up six per cent. Spring barley was 1,286,000 tonnes up 37 per cent. Winter oats production was 43,000 tonnes down 37 per cent on 2012. However there was a increase on the spring oats side up 64 per cent to 144,000 tonnes.

The overall production of cereals for the country is estimated to be close on 2.3 million tonnes, up 10 per cent on 2012.

O’Donovan noted that grain quality was very high this year.

“A favourable grain fill period and settled fine weather during the harvest all contributed to the high yields and ensured that grain quality was excellent. The excellent grain quality in 2013 saw many wheat samples above 80kg/hl and barley above 70kg/hl,” he said.

He also noted the national yields of the main cereal crops were all above five-year trend figures, with winter barley recording its highest national yield ever (9.5t/ha).

In addition the statistics showed total cereal area harvested in 2013 was 302,000 ha, a four per cent fall from the 2012 harvested area. This was due to an extremely challenging autumn period, which resulted a large reduction (-50,000ha) in the winter cereal area.

The largest reduction was in the winter wheat area (-40,000ha), with smaller reductions in winter barley (-6,000ha) and winter oats (-4,000ha).

According to O’Donavan: “There was a corresponding rise in the 2013 spring cereal area (+37,500ha), mainly in spring barley, and smaller increases in spring oilseed rape, fodder beet, beans and maize.

“The area has not fully recovered to normal levels, but we won’t be a million miles off in 2014,” he added.